Columbia County leaders, emergency responders and residents gathered Tuesday at Evans Towne Center Park to honor victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Brig. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., commander of Fort Gordon’s 7th Signal Command, asked the crowd to remember all who were lost that day and to honor emergency and military personnel for their sacrifices.
“It was a day of heroism by ordinary Americans doing what Americans do in tragic and extraordinary times, rising to the challenge helping others and, in short, simply being American,” Morrison said.
That day “profoundly changed” the country in an instant, Morrison said.
Of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field, 411 were emergency responders.
Columbia County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Dino Cesarini rang a memorial bell. The crowd stood motionless and silent as the fire department dispatcher performed the last call the Fire Department of New York over the radio as a tribute to the 343 fallen firefighters.
“Dispatch to FDNY ... ,” the dispatcher said. “Dispatch to FDNY. .... Dispatch to FDNY. ... May we never forget you and always honor and cherish your memory.”
Morrison praised the civilians and military personnel who put themselves at risk every day to protect others.
He said the annual ceremony is a time to reflect and remember, and serves as a testament to the resilient American spirit.
“No matter when we were born, all of us are part of a generation shaped by the events of Sept. 11,” Morris said. “I know together, we will continue to make the United States of America a symbol of hope, opportunity, prosperity and compassion for all freedom-loving people around the world.”